« A Taxpayer May Wonder | Main | Greenland Open Beta »

Feb 02, 2009



finally a post/ and or paper that dosent assume that all this "meta crap" is only as new as 2000 and this current busted bubble.-;)


interesting read. But i dont think the 'different" views have anything to do with european vs american povs. In fact, as my previous comment suggests, ,most of this VR WORLD stuff was old hat in european developers hands as well by 1999.

I think the "agenda" of the play world as culture as projected by the two interests written about has much more to do with the underiding "conceit" of the two... the "artist" ( with all the social crap placed on the word) and the "technologist" (with all the social crap placed on it as well)

Its these two opposed positions (opposites only due to the limits of most minds) that play out-pun intended- in the paper.

in the fuller history- past 2003-lol- of 3d rt immersive media., both european and americans have basically both created only technologies that for the most part arent sustainable as societal offerings and at best can only be described as "board games" or "hammers in a world of screws".

The current battle between "my ip good" and "your ip bad" so often played out here, suggests the memed gulf between the two cartoons of interested types.

so far, most of this always reads as the funny pages. im not sure that was the reason for the play...lol

anyhow- back to the show.


A technical point but homo ludens should be Homo ludens.


Fixed, and many thanks.


We do tend to bury homo faber in these consructions, don't we? I loved the pulled quote from Michel de Certeau, though that may give the impression I haven't read the whole thing. :)

Do you think there is more than a tenuous connection between the expectation of emergent behaviors in complex bureaucratic system and the expectation of the emergence of undirected play in Constant's reconfigurable spaces? Meaning...we seem to play off the same set of notion of semi-undirected behavior and absent leaders. In those collaborative, bureaucratic organizations in the states we complete some goal or realize some transcendent objective (Depending, as you note, on your beliefs about the inherent goodness of emergent properties). In Constant's semi-contrived space, what we could describe as emergent behaviors remake the "urban landscape."

And a note on that semi-contrivance. Reading this piece reminded me of the offhand remark I made at GLS last year: that despite the obvious and deliberate strides away from high modernism, something hints of Le Corbusier. This infinitely reconfigurable space, tailored to the inhabitant by the inhabitant is clearly, by itself, a ringing response to the high modernists. But the superstructure itself belies a paean to form. It's just a thought in the back of my head but it should either say something about me or say something about New Babylon that it has been nagging me for about 8 months now.


Adam wrote:

Do you think there is more than a tenuous connection between the expectation of emergent behaviors in complex bureaucratic system and the expectation of the emergence of undirected play in Constant's reconfigurable spaces?

Well, I'm not entirely sure what you're asking, if only because you're throwing me off a little with the word "bueaucratic" in there. (If by that you mean something like SL, I might tend to call such a system "post-bureaucratic" or maybe even "ludo-technocratic.") In any case, I think my answer is that the connection is there, and not tenuous. It is just a connection at a very broad level -- a common (on both sides of the Atlantic) rejection of modernism and its faith in order, in top-down planning.

That is, the rejection of modern bureaucratic institutions and their related ideals took place in both America and Europe, but that rejection was differently elaborated. So your invocation of Le Corbusier is quite apt. Constant's departure from the Situationists was precisely over the issue of the degree of authority he had to recoup in order to pursue the New Babylon project. The role of the designer as literally above (as in the picture) the rich social life below belies a social distinction between the creators (of the system) and the makers (of things within it).



A fuller response in a bit, but I agree that the question I posed on the 2nd paragraph was a bit muddied. It may also lack clarity because my picture of immediate postwar collaborative efforts between academia, the military and the corporate world is more bureaucratic than post-bureaucratic. Thinking I guess in some sense that post-bureaucratic organizations grew out of some collaborations and not others rather than from some ex ante expectation of emergent behaviors.

I'll come back to it and try and reformulate.


Oh, yes, Adam, I agree with the idea that post-war, post-bureaucratic collaboration grew out of collaborations that involved bureaucratic institutions, but they also involved a pretty non-bureaucratic institution, the research university (which itself is still built largely on a different model than the bureaucratic). One might say that the most bureaucratic of the institutions involved was the military itself, but these are arguments that good historians are sorting out. In any case, I agree that for the most part these were deeply practical innovations in how to collaborate, rather than ideologically driven by a kind of broader liberal faith.

They seem to have been driven by the exigencies of WWII and the cold war, and the limited ability of these institutions (especially the military establishment) to make those innovations happen via top-down directives ("At 9am today all employees will innovate for a period of half an hour." ;-) ). Thus the bringing together of experts from three quite different kinds of institutions for the task of being creative.

That's not to say that the ideological side of it wasn't also percolating along. When Wiener et al sought to make sense of socio-technical systems, they were drawing both on their practical experience in anti-aircraft systems design and on the ready-at-hand, anti-bureaucratic ideas about the virtues of emergent effects that have been around since Adam Smith (and given further impetus, of course, by Darwin).



I agree that there is a constellation of bureaucratic and post-bureaucratic institutions in that weird military/coprorate/academic locus. I also agree that some were expressly functional (especially as imitators said "me too!" to these small inter-disciplinary groups). My father worked in a Washington satellite group for TRW created shortly after the end of the cold war. TRW is sort of the apotheosis of the bureaucratic institution in the defense contracting world (in the world as a whole they don't hold a candle to IBM). They brought a small group of engineers and lawyers to build small spacecraft for the Pentagon--no dress code, flat hierarchy, lots of contact between formerly segregated groups (By contrast, TRW was still fully coat and tie even into the late 1990s). This was meant expressly to model the Skunkworks, which, arguably was modeled after those small organic groups coming out of the cold war. Those seem functional in the extreme, insofar as the directing actor wants to see the returns from those low-scale operations.


for more detail



Ummm. LOLspam?


I was in the initial beta and now playing the open beta, and I want to congratulate the team on the vast improvements in the game.

The comments to this entry are closed.